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[207] Light-house Board; he promptly tendered his resignation, and at the organization of the Confederate government repaired to Montgomery and tendered his services to it. The efforts which had been made to obtain steamers suited to cruising against the enemy's commerce had been quite unsuccessful, none being found which the naval officers charged with their selection regarded fit for the service. One of the reports described a small propeller-steamer of five hundred tons burden, sea-going, lowpressure engine, sound, and capable of being so strengthened as to carry an ordinary battery of four or five guns; speed between nine and ten knots, but the board condemned her because she could carry but five days fuel, and had no accommodations for the crew.

The Secretary of the Navy showed this to Commander Semmes, who said: ‘Give me that ship; I think I can make her answer the purpose.’ She was to be christened the Sumter, in commemoration of our first victory, and had the honor of being the first ship of war commissioned by the Confederate States, and the first to display the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy on the high seas. The Sumter was at New Orleans, to which place Commander Semmes repaired; as forcibly presenting the difficulties under which we labored in all attempts to create a navy, I will quote from his memoirs the account of his effort to get the Sumter ready for sea:

I now took my ship actively in hand and set gangs of mechanics at work to remove her upper cabins and other top hamper, preparatory to making the necessary alterations. These latter were considerable, and I soon found that I had a tedious job on my hands. It was no longer the case, as it had been in former years, when I had had occasion to fit out a ship, that I could go into a navy-yard, with well-provided workshops and skilled workmen, ready with all the requisite materials at hand to execute my orders. Everything had to be improvised, from the manufacture of a water-tank to the kids and cans of the berth-deck messes, and from a gun-carriage to a friction-primer. . . . Two long, tedious months were consumed in making alterations and additions. My battery was to consist of an eight-inch-shell gun, to be pivoted amidship, and of four light thirtytwo-pound-ers of thirteen hundred weight each, in broadside.

On June 3, 1861, the Sumter was formally put in commission, and a muster roll of the officers and men transmitted to the Navy Department. On June 18th she left New Orleans and steamed down and anchored near the mouth of the river. While lying at the head of the passes, the commander reported a blockading squadron outside, of three ships at Passe à l'outre, and one at the Southwest Pass. The Brooklyn, at Passe à l'outre, was not only a powerful vessel, but she had greater speed than the Sumter. The Powhatan's heavy armament made it very hazardous to pass her in daylight, and the absence of buoys and lights made it

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Raphael Semmes (2)
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